Category Archives: My Kitchen

Fresh Bay Leaves

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What a pleasant surprise finding these beautiful locally grown (in NorCal) organic bay leaves at my local health food store...for a buck eighty five! I've always been a dry bay leaf gal, though not by choice - fresh are not always easily found. Chefs seem to use them a lot, and I wanted them for my turkey brine, split pea soup, turkey soup etc. I'm sure they'll stay fresh in the fridge for awhile (wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a zip lock bag). After that I'll dry them and pack into...

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The Garlic Press…not a gadget

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I'm a garlic mincing cook and I consider my garlic press a useful tool, rather than just another kitchen gadget. It's handy for crushing garlic efficiently in no time - especially when you need more than a few finely minced cloves. This isn't my first press, I've had others that were frustrating...because they were so hard to clean out. When I found this press it became a companion. The mechanism swivels and functions with ease - it also crushes efficiently. I guess you could say it's has an ...

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Mandoline (slicer)

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A mandoline gives a uniform, precise, crisp cut to vegetables and fruits. Made of plastic or stainless steel, the prices vary accordingly...from $40 to $200 plus. Most chef's I've seen on tv use the expensive stainless steel models. My step daughter works in the catering business in the Napa, California, and tells me...her boss (a chef at his own catering company) uses a $40 plastic mandoline...similar to mine (in the picture). ___________________________________________________________________...

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Food Mill

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The hand crank food mill grinds hot or cold fruits and vegetables into coarse to fine textures...leaving behind unwanted skins and seeds. It's an indispensable item for making sauce, jelly, baby food, soup and puree. Food mills are made of plastic and/or stainless steel and usually come with 2 disks. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________...

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Electric Knife Sharpener

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I thought about this possible purchase for a long time. It took me forever to bite the bullet and finally buy it, because it's quite a substantial investment. I wasn't sure which model...there were literally dozens and it was confusing. So I researched, and then reassessed my needs, finally deciding on this model. I have an assortment of knives, which are categorized as Euro/American blades, and serrated. I made the right decision - this model is designed to sharpen all of them efficiently, easi...

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Reliable Kitchen Scale

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The main reason I bought this scale was for accuracy when recipe writing - except now I use it all the time for everyday cooking...and I love it. It switches between metric and standard, and has an auto shut-off with a memory...which can be restored at the click of the off/on button. The zero button allows you to place a container on the scale and zero out its weight before adding food...very convenient. This scale will hold up to 11 pounds, and there's also a button to illuminate the screen, yo...

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Beans…dried vs canned

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  Pantry staples vary, depending upon the season. Organic are plentiful and inexpensive. You do need to plan ahead...and when you cook them yourself, they taste so much fresher. Cooking dried beans is a fresh, low sodium alternative to canned - which have a up to 450 mg of sodium per half cup. Beans that are soaked overnight promote better digestion and the cooking time is significantly reduced. One cup of dried beans equals about three cups of cooked beans. Lentils and split peas do ...

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Dried Pasta…for carb lovers

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Dried pastas are not all created equal. I recommend choosing a brand made with durum (wheat) semolina. The difference in texture is obvious, and it usually costs very little more than non-durum wheat semolina pasta. Whether whole-wheat or not, these high quality dried pastas are resilient - they hold up better and cook evenly. Durum semolina pasta can be found in just about any supermarket/grocery, specialty and natural food store. _____________________________________________________________...

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Canned Tomatoes…quality matters

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Canned tomatoes are a staple in just about every kitchen. When it comes to choosing a brand, what it really comes down to is personal preference and your budget - some can cost up to $6 per large can. I always buy my favorites when they go on special. The quality and consistency of any given brand will vary, and you may find it necessary (when following a recipe) to adjust slightly. When it comes to paste, I go for organic because it's such a bargain (at Costco). __________________________...

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Pecorino-Romano Cheese…don’t eat Italian without it!

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Romano (as we call it) is the backbone of Southern Italian cooking, and one of Italy’s oldest cheeses. Romano is sheep’s milk cheese that ages for up to 9 months. The flavor is pungent and sharp, yet nutty and creamy...with a dry granular texture and thin rind. We use it for garnish and in toppings and fillings - for meats, fish, vegetables, breads, soups, pastas, sauces, salads and more (enough said)! You’ll see a lot of Romano in my family recipes instead of Parmesan, and it's the single...

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